The President of the umbrella Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael is challenging the head of the local road safety association, Sharmane Roland-Bowen, to bring proof of her claims that private taxi drivers and operators of private Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) are operating under the influence of alcohol.
While protesting the sale of alcohol to minors outside Four Square Rum Distillery Wednesday, Roland-Bowen told reporters that in the absence of breathalyser testing, her organization had received several complaints from tourists about operators who were drinking and driving.
Without giving any statistics, Roland-Bowen had contended that the problem was by no means an isolated one as members of her organization had witnessed PSV operators stopping at shops and bars to purchase alcoholic beverages while on duty, without fear of legal repercussion
“We are speaking up for our tourists. They come to Barbados to enjoy our sea, sun and rum and yet we are not providing safe roads for them to travel on. We have no breathalyzer, we have no legislation to govern or deter persons from going behind the wheel after they have been drinking,” the road safety advocate had said, while pressing for breathalyzer testing to be made law.
However, while not condoning any such behaviour by members of his organization, Raphael has strongly questioned Roland-Bowen’s claims, which were backed up by Canadian visitor Dianne Brunet, who said she had experienced first hand, a situation in which a ZR driver was driving under the influence of rum.
“They would have to produce evidence to us to show that a lot of our taxi drivers are drunk drivers,” he told Barbados TODAY, while expressing doubt that any such evidence even exists.
“There is no evidence to support it,” Raphael declared, while suggesting that “if the Road Safety Association has some issues, there is a body that represents PSVs, which is the Alliance Owners of Public Transport [and] . . . we could sit together collectively and look at it”.
Yesterday, the President of the Association of Private Transport Operators (APTO) Morris Lee told Barbados TODAY he was aware of the complaints and that he wholeheartedly agreed with the call for the introduction of breathalyzer testing.
However, Lee made it clear that the problem of alcohol consumption on the roads was not restricted to PSV operators alone. He also suggested that drivers should be tested for illegal substances, such as marijuana.